Nick Markakis rejoined the Braves on a one-year deal worth $6 million guaranteed, and truth be told, he never wanted to be anywhere else.
The Braves and their veteran right fielder struck a deal Sunday night, without a peep until Tuesday afternoon. Markakis was one of several outfielders the Braves considered for their vacancy, but his market didn’t reach their comfort point until that evening.
Markakis fielded offers from other franchises. He had multiple years and more dollars on the table. He declined in favor of the Braves, an easy call largely thanks to his kids.
“I asked them where they wanted dad to be, and they all said ‘Braves,’” he said. “How could I say no to that?"
Markakis earned his first All-Star nod, along with Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors, for the 2018 Braves. He wasn’t the stereotypical cleanup hitter, but he handled the spot every day. He was a clubhouse pillar, and his return has been met with unanimous cheers from his teammates.
Coming off the best year of his career, Markakis’ market would still be limited because of age (35). His contract is extraordinarily team-friendly: He gets $4 million in 2019, with a $6 million team option for 2020 that includes a $2 million buyout (therefore he’s guaranteed $6 million).
That’s a steep pay cut from the $11 million annually he’d been earning. In typical Markakis fashion, he made it clear he doesn’t care.
“I’m not mad at all,” Markakis said. “I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”
The Players’ Association may not love the response, but it’s that mindset that’s earned Markakis such respect and love from his peers. The Braves will hope to make use of their savings, allocating that money toward a starter, reliever, bench piece or combination thereof.